How To Complete A Full Backup Of Your Android Phone [1.6+]

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android phone backupI’ve been using Titanium Backup ever since I got my first Android device. I love backup applications (for PC and otherwise), and Titanium is as good as it gets. In this short introduction I’d like to show you how to make a complete backup of your phone, as well as share some tips from my time with Titanium Backup.

What You Should Have

First and foremost, your Android device should be rooted. If you’re not quite sure what that means or how to root your phone, check out our post entitled How To Root Your Android Phone With SuperOneClick, which actually links to several different methods. Once your phone is rooted, install Titanium Backup. I strongly suggest you also get the PRO Key for the software, which enables it to run without any limitations (and supports the developer for their hard work). It is well worth the modest $6 price tag.

Getting Started

When you first launch Titanium Backup, you should see something like this:

android phone backup

The X next to Dropbox means I did not configure Titanium Backup to sync my backups to Dropbox – that’s optional, and I don’t think it’s very important. The other checkmarks are important, though, so make sure they’re all checked. If any of them are not checked, tap the “Problems?” button:

backup software android phone

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If needed, tap Upgrade Superuser and you should be fine.

Scheduling a Backup

Like all decent backup applications, Titanium can run unattended, according to a set schedule. Let’s configure that schedule by tapping the Schedules button (at the top of the app):

backup software android phone

Here, you can already see the schedule I personally use on my phone. Let’s see how to get there. Tap “Add new schedule“:

backup software android phone

A new row will appear. Note that there is no checkmark next to “Enabled“, and that by default, the job type is “Redo backups for newer app versions“. Also, the schedule isn’t quite adequate (once a week is much too infrequent). Let’s change all that by tapping Edit:

android backup

First, let’s change the job type. I recommend “Backup all user apps + system data“:

android backup

Note that you can also schedule operations that are not strictly backup related. For example, you could have Titanium Backup delete all the backups for uninstalled applications once a week ( a good idea).

Once you’ve selected a job type, all that’s left is to set up the time when the backup should happen:

android backup

I like to set it to 11am every day, because that’s a time when I’m near my phone but I am not actively using it. When the backup begins, Titanium switches the screen on, so I can instantly see that backup is running even if I’m busy doing something else. Also, make sure you set this to a time when your phone is likely to be charged or charging – you don’t want the battery to run out mid-backup. Last but not least, make sure you tap the Enabled checkbox in the main list, as shown above.

For basic Titanium Backup use, that’s all there is to it. There is just one more important point you should be aware of:

Keeping Past Backups

By default, Titanium Backup saves only the most recent backup of any application. That’s a prudent policy, because it makes sure Titanium doesn’t fill up your SD card. But if you have enough space, it may be a good idea to increase the amount of recent backups Titanium saves. Sometimes applications can become corrupted in various creative ways (especially if you’re in the habit of testing lots of applications and messing about with the phone). If you only have the most recent backup, it may not be of much use. Perhaps the application in question became corrupted two days ago, and you just didn’t notice so far?

That’s why I think it’s a good idea to maintain multiple versions of each application backup, so you can use Titanium Backup like a “time machine” for your phone, and go back in time to any previous version. Here’s how you configure it:

Tap the Menu button, and then tap Preferences:

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Within the (insanely long) Preferences list, scroll down to “Max backup history“:

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Tap it, and set it to a value that seems sensible to you:

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As you can see, I like to retain many past backups. Now, whenever I tap a backed-up application, I can restore not only the most recent backup, but any saved backup:

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Bonus: Batch Uninstall

Titanium Backup is extremely powerful, and can be used for much more than backup. I install numerous apps on my phone every week, and Titanium lets me remove them en masse, rather than one by one. Let me show you how.

Tap the Menu button and tap Batch:

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In the menu that opens, scroll down to Un-install:

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Tap RUN next to “Un-install all user apps”. I know it sounds scary, but trust me on this one. You should see a list of all of your apps, with a checkmark next to each:

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Next, tap Deselect all. This is important as you don’t actually want to uninstall all of your apps. Now, scroll down the list, marking only those apps you actually do want to uninstall:

android phone backup

Once you’re done marking then, tap “Run the batch operation“. Your apps would then all be uninstalled in one fell swoop – much faster than uninstalling them one by one via the Market.

Final Thoughts

Titanium Backup is one of the most powerful (and purchase-worthy) applications on my phone. This post has only scratched its power. What other things do you use it for? Let us know in the comments!

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